Madeleine McCann's parents have a "glimmer of hope" that their daughter is still alive as Portuguese police launch a new search to find the missing girl, insiders say.

Specialist firefighters and divers were brought in to comb three isolated wells last week in Vila do Bispo, Algarve — a town just 16kms from Praia da Luz, where the young girl went missing 13 years ago.

The fresh investigation was sparked after police obtained "fundamental evidence" that the girl is dead.

However, according to the family's ex-publicist Clarence Mitchell, Kate and Gerry McCann refuse to believe their daughter is dead until her body is found, the Sun reports.

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The parents are being "kept informed every step of the way" by British police who are not directly involved in the latest search, Mitchell added.

"Kate and Gerry want answers more than anyone but while the Metropolitan Police are still treating Madeleine's abduction as a missing people's rather than a murder inquiry it gives them a glimmer of hope that she could still be alive.

Madeleine McCann's parents have a
Madeleine McCann's parents have a "glimmer of hope" that their daughter is still alive as Portuguese police launch a new search to find the missing girl. Photo / File photo

"They continue to hope until there is incontrovertible evidence which proves she is dead. They are being kept informed every step of the way."

Meanwhile, an insider source said even though the McCanns are being kept informed of what they need to know, police have not given them all the full details.

"They remain on tenterhooks during this time and it causes them more anguish," they said.

"They still have absolutely no idea if their daughter is dead or alive and what police believe happened to her.

"It is a period of prolonged agony with contradictory statements from German authorities and an alleged spat between all three forces involved."

As authorities continue to investigate the wells, a man who lives across from the search site told the Sunday Mirror he saw 9-10 people in the area along with fix or six cars - mostly the Portuguese rural GNR police.

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"They searched one well then started looking at another – using cables or ropes to lower themselves in," he said.

"The water is about 10 or 15 metres deep. These wells have always been abandoned and filthy. There are lots of wells in this area."

A family source told the Sun: "Kate and Gerry will be the first to know if there is any significant development.

Kate and Gerry McCann refuse to believe their daughter is dead until her body is found.
Kate and Gerry McCann refuse to believe their daughter is dead until her body is found.

"The Met police are now working with Portuguese and German officers on this case but have not been involved in any direct activity in Portugal.

"Wells in the area have been searched in the past and they were expecting new searches to be made in light of recent news from German police.

"They are rather surprised that the waterways hadn't been searched sooner. But this is a matter for Portuguese officers who are liaising with German authorities and Scotland Yard."

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The insider added that Kate and Gerry still gave absolutely no idea what evidence police have to suggest Madeleine is dead.

"They are not being told. We feel desperately sorry for them as they've endured so much pain and angst for more than 13 years."

Convicted German sex fiend Christian Brueckner, 43, remains the prime suspect in Maddie's disappearance during a family holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.

Respected Portuguese state broadcaster RTP reported officers working with their German counterparts, discovered "fundamental evidence" to be able to prove Brueckner is responsible for Maddie's kidnap and murder.

It has also linked the man to another missing persons' case in the Algarve resort of Silves.

Convicted German sex fiend Christian Brueckner, 43, remains the prime suspect in Maddie's disappearance.
Convicted German sex fiend Christian Brueckner, 43, remains the prime suspect in Maddie's disappearance.

Sky News reported that the drifter and prolific criminal twice slipped through the net of Portuguese investigators, according to court documents and witness testimony.

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Last week it was revealed Brueckner had been arrested on suspicion of exposing himself to children in a playground a short drive from Praia da Luz in 2017 when he was on the run from German authorities.

He is currently behind bars in Germany and serving 21 months for dealing drugs in the German resort of Sylt.

His lawyers have reportedly filed a request for him to be released after serving two-thirds of his sentence, but prosecutors fear he may flee the country after his release.

The serial sex offender is appealing a conviction for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz in 2005.